A TEENAGER died after downing a cocktail of a powerful cancer drug mixed with cherryade while getting high in his friend’s bedroom, an inquest has heard.

Ben Tait, 18, who tried to quit alcohol and cannabis by appearing on Channel Four’s Family Brat Camp in 2006, died on his sister’s fifth birthday, after drinking liquid morphine found stuffed in a shoebox at friend Gareth Alderman’s house.

Today,an inquest at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard the prescription painkiller belonged to Mr Alderman’s late grandmother, who may have deliberately hidden the medication to hasten her death during a long battle with cancer.

Ben’s family, who are from Headington, told the Oxford Mail Ben had recently found stability after moving away from Oxford and studying catering in Banbury.

But on January 7, he and Mr Alderman, 18, who lived with his grandparents in Pinhill Road, Banbury, discovered the bottle of Oramorph after drinking vodka and smoking cannabis.

Mr Alderman’s grandfather, David Alderman, had banned Ben from the house after learning about a run-in with an Oxford drug dealer in 2007, which caused Ben to run away for a fortnight.

But he let Ben stay when he locked himself out of his student house in Queens Road, Banbury.

Gareth Alderman told the inquest: “We smoked two or three spliffs and then opened the vodka. He said he didn’t drink it straight, so I got some cherryade.

“He was looking for a DVD and we found a box with a bottle of Oramorph in. He said ‘Have you got any needles?’ and I said ‘no’. The label said you mix it with a soft drink.

“I just thought it was a drug, but I didn’t know what sort.”

He said the pair poured the Ormorph into two glasses, topped it up with cherryade, and downed the drinks in one.

He said: “I remember waking up in the morning, half hanging out of bed, and covered in my own sick.

“I looked at his face and he looked extremely unwell. He was blue with sick in his mouth.

“Then I panicked. I really didn’t know what to do.”

Ben was rushed to Horton Hospital, Banbury, where medics restarted his heart, but he was declared dead at 11.04am.

Mr Alderman, who broke down in the witness box, said: “I’ve never really had many friends.

“He came up to me at college and as soon as we met we just clicked. He was the only mate I’ve ever actually trusted.”

Mr Alderman’s grandfather said notes written by his late wife led him to believe that she may have been hoarding drugs because she wanted to die.

The county coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Ben's uncle Paul Boyle, 49, told the inquest his nephew had “turned the corner” after a history of problems.

Mr Boyle spoke to the Oxford Mail on behalf of parents Jennifer and Matthew Tait, of Old Road, Headington.

He said: “Ben came from a loving and supportive family. Despite their difficulties with him over the years, his mother had contact with him daily, apart from the two-week period when he was reported missing in 2007.

“In January, he went on a three-week family holiday. He’d been in great spirits and hardly drinking any alcohol. He came back from holiday with a determination to finish college, find employment and be a successful individual.

“His family felt he had really turned the corner and was on the straight and narrow.

“They are obviously traumatised. The entire family is distraught, exacerbated by the fact he died on his sister’s birthday. They don’t have any feelings about Brat Camp at all. They were prepared to try anything to help their child.”